Tuesday 21 May 2019

First Forges Forward in Edinburgh (2)

There are three main routes that run (sort of) east from Edinburgh. The A9 ran to  Falkirk but was severed to make way for Edinburgh Airport's expansion near the community of Turnhouse.
This road is now demoted and replaced by improved routes to the Forth Bridges and, of course, by the M9.

Next south comes the traditional main road to Glasgow, the A8 - now superseded by the ludicrously busy M8.

Lastly (for the purposes of this blog) comes the A71 which links Edinburgh to Motherwell.

These three roads define what is usually known a the "Central Belt" a one-time mix of heavy industry interspersed with patches of comparative remoteness.

Between the A89 and the A71,  about 15 miles from Edinburgh, is the new town of Livingston.
If you look closely, you will see "Livingston Village" on the map, and, like Milton Keynes, the new town name giver is almost lost in the massive development.

But it is still there with its main street (called originally "Main Street") ...
... popular but much extended village pub ...
... typical Presbyterian church ...
... and ancient bridge over the River Almond.
It was a very small community!
You would be hard-pressed to find it, even if you drove to where Livingston Village appears on the map.
Livingston is perforce the focus of First Bus' West Lothian network and it is this block of routes that has been in receipt of aggressive competition from the former Edinburgh Corporation company, branded Lothian Country.

It is most certainly this depletion of First's revenue that has prompted the responsive attack on the Edinburgh tours business. Lothian's competitive routes have changed slightly over the period of the battle, but fbb will be content if he can successfully explain the current networks and how they impinge.

As there is no longer a West Lothian (county) bus map or timetable these days, we need to flit from one company to the other - so hold on to your hats and pay close attention at the back!

A8 First Bus
The A8 has become the A89/A899.

Route 24 becomes a Livingston town service whilst the 25 continues to Bathgate, and Armadale, each every 30 minutes.
There is a further half hourly 25 between Livingston and Blackridge. Google Streetview hasn't visited Blackridge recently!

A8 Lothian
(click on the map for an enlargement)
X18 runs direct via A89 to Bathgate (NOT via Livingston) every 30 minutes even on Sundays. It then runs south ti Whitburn.
The terminus at Whitburn is at the far western end of the town's main street, again named Main Street.
The equivalent of First's 25 from Livingston westbound, but to Bathgate only, is route 287 - again every 30 minutes seven days a week.
First's 21 provides a similar function between Bathgate and Whitburn, but via a different route from Livingston.

Also via the A8/A89 is a new (from 13th May 2019) X17 running via Livingston and continuing via West Calder to Fauldhouse.
Thus also runs every 30 minutes seven days a week ...
Between Livingston and Loganlea/Fauldhouse this competes with First's 26 ...
... which doubles back from beautiful Fauldhouse Station ...
... to Bathgate.
Still with us? Well done.

So, here endeth the first part of this review. We can see that, on every part of First's Livingston-centred network (so far), Lothian Country is "having a go" and must be hurting First's bottom line.

Whether Lothian Country is making a profit is very doubtful but you would guess that both operators are losing money by the bucketful.


One oddment. Although Lothian started their X17 earlier this month  and added it to the map ...
... it doesn't appear in their list of timetable.


 Next Competitive Clash blog : Wednesday 22nd May 


  1. Oh dear fbb. "Sort of east" from Edinburgh is west, actually!

  2. Whoops! I must be getting old!!! But thanks for the correction. Must try harder. I guess there is a clue in the county name - WEST Lothian.

  3. Andrew Kleissner21 May 2019 at 14:09

    "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
    But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
    When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!"

    (Rudyard Kipling).